I have a family of five to cook for and I love it when everyone pitches in, yes even the toddler. While using a peeler might not have the same status as using a knife and cutting, it's still a very worthwhile skill for toddlers (and preschoolers) to learn. Can a toddler use a peeler? Yes, absolutely. But it requires practice and close supervision.
The best peelers, those that are easiest to use are ones that are reasonably sharp, so you want to teach your child to use the peeler safely from the start, this includes using the peeler but also handling and passing the peeler. Above and below Otto (2 yrs) is using the WMF Children's Peeler (UK link).
Yes, this is scrappy, messy and peel goes over the table and floor. But Otto was really concentrating and working so hard. I was not going to interrupt his flow and break his concentration in order to clean up. He started with slow deliberate peels but ended up peeling super fast in a peeling frenzy. This type of peeling also requires persistence and problem solving and is fantastic for the muscles in the hand and arm.
Otto loved this peeling work so much. He (almost) completely peeled two large sweet potatoes and was able to see and get the peel he had missed. It helps that he was working at the kitchen table with his two brothers also peeling at the same time. It's important that he is able to observe and learn from other children around him.
Ideas for peeling include:
- Carrots - to remove peel or to peel lots of strips for snack, salad, stir fry or to cook as a vegetable noodles.
- Zucchini - to make strips or noodles for stir fry or as a vegetable pasta.
- Potatoes - including sweet potatoes.
- Cheese - peel strips for snack or to add to top of pasta.
- Cucumber - to remove peel or to make strips for snack, salad, or to put in a sandwich!
We know that not all vegetables need to have their peel removed and peel can be incredibly nutritious.
Otto was peeling carrots too.
Here are some of the children's (and child friendly) peelers we've tried. The key thing I'm looking for in children's peeler is the small size so the child can easily hold and manoeuvre the peeler and that overall it is easy to use. Otis (8 yrs) loves cooking and has given each of these a brief review:
1. Victorinox Rapid Peeler. Victorinox and Kuhn Rikon are my favourite brands for peelers for children as they are high quality, sharp and have styles which are short/small where the handle is a good size for the young child. This was Otis' second favourite peeler and always produced nice long thick peels. "Nice - it's my second favourite." - Otis (8 yrs) It looked incredibly easy for him to use.
2. Small Swiss Peeler (similar). This looks very much like a Victorinox but is similar to the Kuhn Rikon (it is Swiss made). As with the peeler above it is sharp and super easy for the child to use. "Very, very good peeler." - Otis (8 yrs). This was Otis' preferred and favourite peeler!
This is nice and small for the child's hands. I like the grippy texture. It works ok and the price point is good. "It's not my favourite, hard to use." - Otis (8 yrs).
4. Ceramic Blade Peeler (similar here). There is some thought that the ceramic blade is safer for children. We bought ours from a Montessori specific supplier. It works perfectly, it is a little longer than our other peelers but my children can still easily hold and control it. "It's Ok - easy to use." - Otis (8 yrs)
5. WMF Children's Peeler (UK link). Willy Mia Fred, this is a German brand, perhaps readers in Europe will be familiar with it. Otis used it ok but it looked small in his hands. It is Otto's (2 yrs) favourite and most used peeler, he loves it. It could be the monkey design but I like it for Otto as:
- It is the smallest and fits the hand of a toddler (please note the recommended age is 6 yrs).
- The monkey design and the curve means that Otto uses it the right way up (the blade is the right way up) every single time. He has struggled with this on other peelers. Perhaps if he were to use another peeler I would draw a smiley face on one side so he can easily see which way is up.
- While being small it is still sharp enough to peel hard foods like carrot and sweet potato.
6. Safety Food Peeler (AU link). "It requires little strength to use – in fact, the lighter you slide it along, the better result! Pushing down is not required, it is the angle and the sliding action that enables the clever design to peel. ‘Perfectly safe meets perfect design’ – all this and it is BPA free, dishwasher safe and 100% Australian made & owned!" - Kiddies Food Kutter.
I wanted to love this as it is incredibly safe, but Otis couldn't use it easily and Otto couldn't use it at all (it's recommended for ages 3 yrs +). The idea is the child needs to put their index finger on the middle of the blade as pictured above, but Otis found it needed a lot of pressure. "Not easy to grip on and you have to apply lots of pressure." - Otis (8 yrs).
I also love to see how professionals and teachers set up their practical life trays, here are a few that I like:
- Carrot Peeling Activity - Complete classroom activity set at Montessori Services.
- Carrot Peeling Activity at Montessori Materials (AU).
- Peeling Activity at Alison's Montessori.
- Montessori Peeling and Cutting Cucumber Tray at Ohyeplus Montessori Store (via AliExpress, I haven't ordered from here but I like this example). I don't colour coordinate my trays at home so this is what our set up is most likely to look like.
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